Online Shrine Visits in a Time of Social Distancing

Tokyo Entertainment Shrine 2020.04.19
With Tokyo in a state of emergency, the illustrious Meiji Jingu Shrine (明治神宮) has a new website, bringing the shrine to you.

The Meiji Jingu Shrine

A vast space in the middle of Shibuya, Meiji Jingu is a shrine devoted to Japan's Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) and his wife, Empress Shoken (1849-1914). The shrine is a popular attraction for travelers visiting Tokyo, and while the brand new, completely redesigned Meiji Jingu Shrine website has surely been in the works for a while now, its recent debut has lined up nicely with the drop in tourists able to freely tour Tokyo. If you can't visit the shrine in person, at least you can appreciate it from afar!
  • The redesign includes a sleek new English page, with a bevy of guides to visiting the shrine, information about its history, and details on what you'll find when you arrive.
  • Including a page on how to, apparently, "feel Shinto" (the ancient Japanese religion).


The most exciting find on the new website, however, is found on the front page - but only the Japanese one. It hasn't quite made it to the English page yet! And that find is the shrine's unique omikuji (おみくじ), a word that usually refers to the little paper fortunes chosen randomly when visiting a shrine.
  • Of course I had to try, so I clicked for my omikuji and... well, at first I was a little surprised with the results. Is this good luck or bad? What do those poems mean for my future?

    My overzealous omikuji clicking had gotten me confused, so I looked around the website some more, continuing my virtual visit, and learned an interesting fact: the omikuji at Meiji Jingu Shrine aren't fortunes at all! (Even when you get one in person.) In fact, instead of predictions for your future, the omikuji are printed with waka poems (和歌), which both Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken wrote in huge numbers (93,032 and 27,825, respectively). The poems people receive as omikuji, the shrine tells us, are a selection of the royals' most pertinent and meaningful pieces.

    While I can't say this poem struck me in any particular, life-changing way, it is a nice sentiment. And it was fun to see what my non-fortune omikuji would be without ever having to leave the house! Let me know what kinds of poems you get, too, on the Japankuru twitter, instagram, and facebook!
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